School starts next week, so I thought I would address a couple of the most common complaints I hear from parents about those dreaded school lunches. The two concerns I hear most often are that parents are in a lunch rut, packing the same thing day after day, and that school lunches come home partially or completely uneaten on a regular basis. Here are a few tips for keeping school lunches stress-free, interesting, healthy and tasty:
• Young kids, especially new Primary students, often ﬁnd lunchtime at school
overwhelming. They have to eat without much supervision and socialize with their new friends, which often results in less food getting eaten. Don't overwhelm them with too much food. If lunch is coming home uneaten, cut back on what you are sending. This sets them up for success and you up for an opportunity to praise good eating.
• Talk to your kids about the importance of eating their lunch. Their brains need glucose to think, protein to grow, and good fats to stay healthy and smart. Explain how they will run out of energy by the afternoon if they don't eat a good lunch, and how this will affect the way they feel, play and learn.
• Send the love. A little note, funny cartoon or fun fact can make your childʼs day, especially in those ﬁrst weeks back.
• They won't always succeed in eating all of their lunch, especially in their early years. Prepare them for the best day possible by feeding them a balanced breakfast of complex carbs, protein and a little bit of healthy fat, and then make sure they ﬁnish their lunch or have a balanced snack when the school day is done!
I always try to provide simple strategies to help my clients' families to eat healthier. If you are looking for a little more help in this department, consider attending one of my workshops or booking an individual family food session (School Lunch Solutions & Raising Healthy Eaters Workshops are ﬁlling up now for September.) My School Lunch Solutions Workshop includes a list of healthy lunch and recess combinations as well as a Build-A-Lunch guide that will help you (and your kids, if they are old enough to get involved) assemble a huge variety of healthy, balanced lunches.
I hope everyone has a wonderful last few days of summer and back to school goes smoothly in all of your households! Stay healthy and happy.
Wendy McCallum, LLB, RHN, is passionate about providing busy parents with the tools & support they need to feed their families wholesome food, so everyone can play, learn, and feel better! She is a mother of two terrific HRM kids, both aged 7. For information and recipe ideas, visit her website.